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On Walkabout at: Yosemite National Park – Part 1

After spending the night in Merced, California my wife and I had an early morning breakfast at our favorite breakfast restaurant Denny’s before heading out to Yosemite National Park.  From Modesto it took about an hour of driving across flat farm country before reaching the foot hills of the Sierra Nevada mountains that is home to the world famous Yosemite National Park:

The foot hills were mostly steep and treeless as the access road to the national park curves along its side.  However, it wasn’t long before the mountains became cloaked in green foliage and large boulders became visible that stood testament to the glacier activity that took place here thousands of years ago that carved this valley:

Before long the valley flattened out with many meadows and pine tree forests:

However, all around the valley was just amazingly high and steep granite cliffs such as El Capitan below, that were all cut by the large glacier that once moved through these mountains cutting this valley during the last ice age:

I recently watched a National Geographic special on Yosemite and it took a rock climber 3 days to climb El Capitan.  He literally camped from a tent hanging on the side of the cliff.  Pretty incredible.

When driving through the Yosemite Valley the urge to pull over and take pictures of the stunning granite rock cliffs was a constant occurrence:

For being a place famous for its wildlife, amazingly the only wildlife besides birds we saw during our entire visit was the squirrels that seem to be all over the park:

Towards the center of Yosemite Valley is the park’s visitor center that is actually quite well done and definitely worth a visit:

Sadly we learned at the visitor center that the native people who called this valley home were driven out by the early settlers that arrived in Yosemite in the mid 1800’s prospecting for gold.  These prospectors eventually came into conflict with the native tribes, which ultimately led to the Mariposa Indian War that crushed the Native-Americans who were resisting the advancing gold prospectors.  With the Indian threat removed the Yosemite Valley was open for development, however the effort to secure the valley from the Indians had the unintended effect of causing more outsiders to see the beauty of the valley.  The writers and artists who first saw this valley painted pictures and wrote stories about this beautiful land.  Soon an an effort was launched to protect the valley from development and in 1864 Abraham Lincoln signed a bill giving the valley to the State of California to conserve.  Ultimately in 1890 the valley received federal protection by becoming Yosemite National Park.  After all these years this valley is still beautiful because of the efforts by those before us to protect it.

Here is a picture of my wife enjoying this beautiful park:

The valley floor has a number of large open meadows where we hoped to see some wildlife, but unfortunately we just couldn’t spot any on this day:

Even though we couldn’t spot any wildlife, walking across these open meadows provided some spectacular unobstructed views of the various mountains that surround the valley:

From the meadows we then hiked into the tree line a bit towards the cliffs to see if there was any water flowing down Yosemite Falls:

We walked up the path towards the waterfall and the smell of the pine trees is extremely strong in this park:

Yosemite is well known for its famous waterfalls and we really wanted to see one, but what they don’t tell you is that these waterfalls do not flow during the late summer months:

There was barely a trickle coming down this waterfall that in the spring time is an amazing torrent of water.  Here is how this waterfall would look when water is cascading down the side of these steep cliffs:

Though we didn’t see a waterfall we did see again the same type of blue bird we had saw back at Redwoods National Park:

After checking out the waterfall or rather what was left of the waterfall we then decided to take a drive up to Glacier Point to get a view of the valley from high above.  As we drove up Glacier Point Road we stopped to take this money shot of the Yosemite Valley:

Just beautiful.

Next Posting: Yosemite National Park – Part 2

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